Painting in our Life

Since prehistoric times, many artists have painted the subjects that were most important to their societies. For example, religion was

Painting in our Life



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ush that could many kinds of lines. Artists created many paintings in black ink only. Even when they added color, the ink drawing remained the basis of the design. The Chinese paid more attention to the brushstrokes than to the subject matter. Most surviving Chinese painting are painted on silk or an absorbent paper. Many artists painted on walls or a large screens. All these paintings require special study. The artist intended their works to be examined only if the viewer had time to enjoy them without distraction.

In China, painters, like poets and scholars, were considered persons of learning and wisdom. Chinese paintings were closely associated with poetry. Many Chinese paintings combine certain objects, such as a particular bird or flower, because the objects are associated with a famous poem.

Chinese painters produced many great landscapes painted on long scrolls. The viewer unrolls the scroll slowly from right to left, revealing a continuous succession of scenes of the countryside. These hand scrolls are in a uniquely Chinese art form. Appreciation of them requires much patience and thought.

Xia Gui and Ma Yuan created a style of idealized landscapes that greatly influenced Chinese and Japanese painting.

Human figures were also important in Chinese painting. Artists painted portraits of both real and imaginary people. They painted scenes that illustrate stories and historical subjects. Many paintings show the elegant, refined life at court. Some of these pictures show furniture and decorations in great detail. Others have a plain background. All these paintings are remarkable for a delicacy of line.

Japanese painting is included in the tradition of Chinese painting because Japan's art was greatly influenced by China's. However, the Japanese changed the Chinese styles to suit their own taste. The Japanese use of the color and abstract design had transformed the art into a new form of expression. Japanese artists were interested in the time and place in which they lived. Their paintings show their fondness for storytelling as well as for art that appeals to the emotions and the senses.

From the 1500's to the 1800's, Japanese artists painted in a style that strongly emphasized color and design. These artists were called decorators. The decorators omitted detail from their pictures and stressed only outlines. They applied their color evenly with no shading. The decorators often added gold leaf to their paintings for an effect of luxury. The finest decorative paintings were pictures of nature, particularly animals, flowers, and landscapes.

Throughout most of its history, Japanese painting has reflected the taste of the upper classes. But the Japanese style most familiar in the West is an art of the common people. The style is called ukiyo-e (the floating world). The floating world is a world of pleasure and entertainment, and of great actors and beautiful women.

Islamic painting is primarily the creation of beautiful books through calligraphy and illustration. Calligraphers copied texts in elegant handwriting, and artists added illustration to increase the beauty of the books. Calligraphers copied the texts of Koran, the Islamic holy book, on pages that were then covered with gold leaf. Early Islamic artists decorated the pages with complicated patterns because their religion prohibited the making of images of human beings and animals. However, as time passed, many Islamic artists especially those living in Persia - began painting human and animal figures.

In addition to the Koran, Persian artists illustrated collections of fables, histories, love poems, and scientific works. These illustrations have jewel like color, the most important element in Islamic painting. The artists did not try to portray the real world, but instead tried to create a luxurious, ideal setting to delight the eye and simulate the imagination.

Medieval painting refers to most of the art produced in Europe during a period of about 100 years. This period began with the fall of the Roman Empire in the AD 300's and 400's and ended with the beginning of the Renaissance in the 1300's. Almost all medieval artists dealt with religious subjects, they developed several styles. One of these styles, called Byzantine, became the most important tradition among Christian artists of eastern Europe and the Near East.

Byzantine painting. Starting in the AD 300's, eastern Christians gradually separated from the western Christians, who were ruled by the pope in Rome. Eastern Christians art is called Byzantine because the religion centered in the city of Byzantium (now Istanbul, Turkey). By the 500's, the Byzantine artists had developed a special style of religious painting. The Byzantine painting style has remained largely unchanged to the present day. Byzantine pictures portray colorful but unlifelike figures that stand for religious ideas rather than flash-and-blood people. The artists were not interested to techniques that would help show the world as it was. They generally ignored perspective and gave their works a flat look. They made wide use of symbols in their works in order to tell stories.

The CJTeat age of Russian Art.

When Russia received Christianity from Byzantium in the late 1000's, an important part of the culture transplanted onto Russian soil was the early medieval art that Byzantium had brought to a level of great sophistication. For the Orthodox Church, icons (images of holy personages or events) where an integral part of worship and theology, testifying to the reality of the incarnation. Characteristically icons were painted in tempera on wooden panels, though they may be of other materials, and the fresco wall paintings (occasionally mosaics) with which early churches were always adorned are equally “iconic”.

After the Tatar conquest building activity, and with it painting, revived gradually during the 1400's. First Novgorod, then increasingly Moscow were the major patrons; but the political fragmentation of the time led to productive artistic activity in many smaller places. Contacts will] the Mediterranean world revived: Serbian painters worked in Novgord; the learned Greek Theophanes (in Russian Feofan) worked both there and in Moscow. But home-bred talents made this the great age of Russian painting; notably the monk Andrew Rublyov (c. 1370-1430). He is first recorded as one of the painters of the Moscow Annunciation Cathedral in 1405. He was evidently aware of new stylistic currents in Byzantine art of the time and also conveys the Hellenistic impetus behind Byzantine art generally. The famous so-called “01d Testament Trinity was painted in memory of St. Sergius when the Trinity Monastery was restored after the Tatar raid of 1408. The scene is the Hospitality of Abraham: three pilgrims, recognized as angles, are given a meal by Abraham and Sarah.

Few icons survive from Kievan Russia: those that do mostly display a static unclutted monumentality. In the early Tatar period Russian art, thrown back on its own resources, shows a “folk” quality, with expressive, plastic distortions and simplifications of figure stye and clear, unnaturalistic colors. When Russian culture revived in the late 1400's its art was able to draw on both these aspects of its past, but also on renewed international contacts, above all with Byzantium. There were certainly also contacts with the South Slavs, but none can be proved with Western Europe. The best painters of the late medieval Orthodox lands seem to have sought a tender expressivity, though in the case of Rublyov combined with gravitas and a pure and monumental line. There seems to be a truly classical impulse at work here, whether looking back to the nobility of Kievan art or through recent Byzantine models to a sort of refined Hellenistic legacy. The painters of the 1500's seemed to share a common interest in unnaturalistic but often dramatic effects of light, notably in scenes such as the Transfiguration and the Descent into Hell, it is reasonable to see in this an effect of Hesychast mysticism.

Icon painters had singular opportunities in the early 15 00's as a result of the development of the iconostasis, a wooden screen closing off the altar area of a church and clad with tiers of icons, often life-Osize or greater. The central tier (the “Deisis”) represented holy figures interceding with Christ on behalf of the worshipers. The iconostasis as a gallery of representations of saints compares with the great sculpted portals of Western medieval cathedrals, while the opening and closing of its central doors enhance the drama of the liturgy. The impact of the whole ambience is increased by the frescoes covering all interior walls and ceilings. Good examples of these survive, though fragmentarily in Novgorod (World War II took a heavy toll here), and include paintings by Theophanes. There are wall paintings by Rublyov in the Dormition Cathedral at Vladimir. A small number of very fine illuminated gospels books of the period have been attributed to the circles of both artists.

Beginning about 1400, European painting flourished as never before. This era of great painting took place during the period of history called the Renaissance. The Renaissance began in Italy about 1300 and spread northward. By 1600, it had effected nearly all Europe.

One very important aspect of the Renaissance was a great revival of interest in the art and literature of ancient Rome. This revival had an enormous influence on painting. Religious subject matter remained important. But artists included elements of Roman architecture in their pictures. The Italian city of Florence and the northern Europe an region of Flanders became the major centers of painting in the early Renaissance.

Sandro Botticelli, one of the greate

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